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Health belongs in assessment

The Mat-Su Borough Assembly really blew it last Tuesday by tossing out another resolution supporting health impact assessments for proposed coal mines. The borough proudly states that the Valley is "open for business," but we need a fair cost-benefit analysis of the businesses we invite.

Coal mining elsewhere brings both jobs and health problems, but the balance of these for Valley coal mines are largely unknown. Health is not considered anywhere in the permitting process, and certainly not considered by the mining companies -- because the mining companies don't pay the cost; we do!

We pay health care expenses and missed work days due to increased children's asthma, heart disease, lung disease, stroke, mental illness and the car accidents inevitable with hundreds of coal trucks barreling through Palmer, Wasilla, and out Knik Highway to Port MacKenzie. We pay the increased burden on the emergency medical systems and the road infrastructure funded by taxes.

The bottom line is the permitting system allows a mining company to privatize profits while socializing the costs of coal.

-- Heidi Zimmer

Anchorage